Category Archives: News

Leila Celestin: A Portrait

Interviewed by: Andrei Wayne K. Defino

leila celestin

Photo by: Brian Tagalog

What did you study for your Undergraduate education?

A Bachelors of Fine Arts and French Studies.

What motivated you to study French and the Fine Arts?

Well, I’ve always wanted interested in art, but to be honest, I kind of did it to prove a point. I was interested in art since elementary school so my mother encouraged my creativity; I entered a lot of competitions and won a lot of competitions. However, coming from a family of physicians, studying art wasn’t always the ideal thing for me to do. But I really wanted to do it, so I kept on honing my craft and I decided to get a degree in it. French Studies was kind of cheating since I already speak French. I was however able to study in France for a year, CLEP a lot of classes and get my degree.

That sounds fun! Can you tell me more about your art?

I really like doing realistic paintings, but I’ve always been interested in doing portraitures. I did a lot of realistic portraitures early in my life, but I got to a point where there was one professor who encouraged me to do more of a free stylized art. It turned out that I was a very quick painter so what he would do was make me cut out these square pieces of woods and challenged me to make self-portraits on them in five minutes. I ended up getting really fast and I started utilizing light to make the images look like a person without really having specific features. Eventually I started getting interested in bold brush strokes. It came to the point where, for my senior thesis, I presented about 50 portraits that I painted in about 30 minutes each. It was due to three professors that I finally found my style and I continuously do portraits – for my friends and people who might be interested in getting portraits done – despite the busyness of grad school.

As a Master’s student, how do you find time to still do portraits?

Listen, if I’m being honest, I only do them when I have a sliver of free time or when I need extra money. If someone really wants me to do one of them or even a lot of them, I usually have to tell them that it might not be available until my next slot of free time; I hold quite a few jobs on campus, so it’s hard to always be available but doing portraits doesn’t always take long for me so I guess it works out.

So I’ve seen that you’ve held multiple art shows. How did that happen?

I had my first art show here at Andrews, but I also got to do a show in Albany, New York, in Oct. 2013, which was really cool. A lot of the people I that were in my portraits were able to come and see them. Later, they asked me to do show my pieces at the Town Hall. Basically, in Albany there is this big dome where they have meetings, town events, museum tours and art shows. For this one show, I was able to show my pieces at a refugee celebration—a real highlight of my career.

What is art to you?

Here’s the thing: for me, I realized that halfway through my degree that if I had to do this to eat, I would begin to hate it. After I finished my 50 pieces I was very burnt out; I didn’t paint for a year; I didn’t touch a paintbrush or a pencil to draw, sketch, or anything like that after I did that show. And even now, this past Winter break I did a whole bunch of pieces and I don’t think I’ll be painting again until May. I guess that’s always been my thing – innately I like a lot of variety in my life. I like to say that I can paint, I do some tutoring, I do some teaching. So for me, art is like a relaxing process. It’s stressful when I have deadlines, but it’s usually a fun thing. It’s not even that all my pieces have a deeper meaning or anything; I just really like to paint.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artistic minds?

Listen to Ira Glass’s “The Gap” because in every creative field there is a “gap.” You have your tastes and you get into a field where you hone those tastes; To you, however, when you start your skills are still at a low level and all your efforts will seem to suck…until you bridge that gap. When you’re a musician, it can take years of practice to finally mend that gap and finally think you’re good. Poetry, art, acting, in literally all these fields, you will have so many days when you think you aren’t good enough, but you have to persist. You have to be okay with crappy work until you get to that point. Surround yourself with other people who have the same interests as you because they’re going through the same thing. As artists, comedians, dancers, painters and whatever else we never want to admit that we have bad work and only show off our perfected pieces, but really by seeing each other struggle we can feel better about improving. Surround yourself with people who can go through those low points with you and spend time watching and listening to people’s coming up stories; you’ll be surprised how many great artistic figures have struggled in similar ways to you. No one becomes successful overnight. Kevin Hart, Christopher Nolan, Angelina Jolie, Misty Copeland, all started off with 500 or even a thousand bad tries before catching their break. Be encouraged that everyone who has inspired you and helped you had a long and reckless journey; any failure you have right now is just part of the game. Take heart that everyone in the creative field is going through the same thing.

 Leila Celestin is a Speech Pathology masters student and an employee at the James White Library
Article first published in Student Movement vol. 100, issue 16: Wednesday February 10, 2016

Inside James White Library 2015/16

The 2015/16 academic year began with 256 new students from diverse backgrounds attending library tours and orientation. When told that the library has over one million items, one student wondered in amazement how anyone could read it all. We are blessed to have such a large collection which we share with other libraries around the globe through interlibrary loan.

The Multimedia Center will soon house the long-awaited café. The room has been re-organized and the microform, formerly housed there, has been relocated. That this is exciting for students was evidenced by one who jumped high and exclaimed loudly. “Yes! I can now get my favorite drink and snack without going out in the snow.” The large format printer, also in the Center, has been invaluable to students and faculty needing to print posters. The price is very competitive.

A portrait of Ellen G. White, painted by Harry Ahn, has also been added to the library, and will eventually be hung in the lobby across from the portrait of James White. Participating in the unveiling was Justin Torossian, a seminarian and the great-great-great grandson of Ellen White. He shared amusing anecdotes about Ellen White. Did you know her favorite color was pink?Ellen G White

Digital Commons @ Andrews University, a repository for Andrews’s scholarly activities, first introduced in the summer of 2015, has gained momentum. This repository allows faculty, staff, and students to share their research with other scholars around the world. Authors are also able to see whether their research is being used. Items uploaded to the site include honors theses, dissertations, and projects. There have been more than 50,000 downloads in 8 months, averaging 400 downloads a day. Our Arts and Humanities research has the most downloads. Global outreach is over 200 countries. The Digital Commons @ Andrews University seeks to provide a place for Andrews faculty and students with other research communities around the world. We have a rich heritage of research here and we are starting to share that heritage around the world in a digital way,” says Terry Robertson, seminary librarian, “we are starting to see our work accessed in some cool places as a result.”

The Music Materials Center announced the debut of their monthly newsletter Eighth Notes in November 2015. Marianne Kordas, Director of the Music Library, writes, “Here you will find updates on new projects, tie-ins to the bulletin board, and collection highlights.” The inaugural issue also features the new acquisitions to the library. This includes new music records, books, and scores as well as new professional high quality headphones and turntables for patron use to enhance their experience. A new graduate assistant Lady Abigail Imperio has also been added to their team.

New Library Exhibits

By Lauren Matacio, Chair, Library Cultural Events Committee

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During the month of December we have two outstanding exhibits in the Library. In the Library Gallery near the Reference Room is an exhibit of photographs taken by students and faculty on the Andrews University 2014 Tanzania Tour. Nativity Sets from around the world are on display in the Display Case near the Main Lobby. Displays will be up until January 9, 2015.

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The Tanzania Tour is an exciting mix of general education classes in Religion, Cultural Psychology, Literature, Writing, History and Photography, a service project at Poli village in Arusha, a Serengeti safari, and visits to churches, clinics, and cultural centers. The exhibit contains photos reflecting the various experiences of the students and faculty who participated. One student commented, “The things I saw, the people I met, the animals I took pictures of, and the time I spent in the beautiful country could never be accurately described through a conversation or even a few hundred pictures.”


Nativity sets collected by Sharon Cochran, a member of the local Berrien Springs community, are on display in the Main Floor display case. The nativity sets represent a great variety of countries, cultures, and artistic styles. Sets from Africa, Philippines, Caribbean, and Israel, are among the areas represented. Ms. Cochran is a teacher at Niles High School.

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We hope you will take time to view the exhibits. For Library hours and other information, call 269-71-3283.

Adventism in China Conference and the Center for Chinese Adventist Heritage

By Lawrence W. OnsagerOnsager, Dean of James White Library, Andrews University

On October 31, 2014, I presented a paper, On Fire for China, the story of Erik Pilquist, Pioneer Adventist Missionary to China, at the joint Adventism in China and the Association of SDA Historians conference, Reflection on Adventism in China and Asia, held at Hong Kong Adventist College.

On the same date, I represented Andrews University at a ceremony celebrating the creation of the Center for Chinese Adventist Heritage located in the library at Hong Kong Adventist College. Jean Hong and Kat Ma are the curators for the Center. A news story appeared on the Adventist Today website,

Larry Onsager presenting a picture of Erik and Ida Pilquist to Jean Hong, curator of the newly created Center for Chinese Adventist Heritage in the Hong Kong Adventist Library, October 31, 2014.

Larry Onsager presenting a picture of Erik and Ida Pilquist to Jean Hong, curator of the newly created Center for Chinese Adventist Heritage in the Hong Kong Adventist Library, October 31, 2014.

After the conference, I participated in a China tour from November 3-14, 2014 led by Bruce Lo, which visited China treasures such as the Great Wall and present and former Adventist sites in Xi’an, Shanghai, and Xiamen (Amoy), China.

Larry Onsager and Ann Gibson at the Meihua Life Health Center in Xiamen, China. The plaque describes the role of Benjamin and Julia Anderson in building the Meihua School at this site.

Larry Onsager and Ann Gibson at the Meihua Life Health Center in Xiamen, China. The plaque describes the role of Benjamin and Julia Anderson in building the Meihua School at this site.